1936 Stout Scarab

The Many Faces Of The Minivan

The evolution of the minivan has progressed along in anything but a straight line. There have been rear-engine/rear-drive, front-engine/rear-drive, and front-engine/front-drive chassis topped with many different styles of bodies.

Take a look at this gallery of innovators, oddballs, and commercial failures.

1936 Stout Scarab

1936 Stout Scarab

William Stout stands out as a dynamic automotive designer and inventor of the early 20th Century. He helped conceived the design for the Ford Tri-Motor airplane and applied his knowledge to a minivan precursor, the Stout Scarab.

The spacious interior of the Scarab features a completely flat floor with balsa wood paneled sidewalls. A flathead Ford V8 powers the rear wheels. The body is lightweight aluminum.

If you're interested in the Stout Scarab, you may want to make a trip to Detroit to check one out for yourself. Just nine were ever made, and one of them will go on permanent display at the Detroit Historical Museum starting on August 29, 2015.

1964 Volkswagen Bus

1964 Volkswagen Bus

No, the VW Bus is not one of the worst cars ever designed. In fact, these days the old Vee Dub is a certified classic, with values steadily rising.

As cool as the VW Microbus may be, it was also extremely underpowered, and it offered zero creature comforts or safety features.

Volkswagen produced the Microbus T1 through 1967 in many different configurations including campers, pickups, panel vans, and the high-line Deluxe.

1961 Ford Econoline

1961 Ford Econoline

Based on mechanicals from the compact Ford Falcon car, the Econoline E100 van is a body style classified as a forward-control or cab-forward. The Ford is a front-engine/rear-wheel-drive design powered by a small six-cylinder engine. Its compact dimensions made it a great urban delivery vehicle, but the appeal of full-size vans pushed the compact E100 out of production after 1967.
Pontiac Trans Sport 1990

Pontiac Trans Sport 1990

General Motors entered the minivan segment in 1990 with what would become a trio of models including the Pontiac Transport. The models never attained the popularity of the Chryslers, mostly because of the "Dust Buster vacuum" styling. While they looked odd, they were innovative and featured rust- and dent-proof polymer body panels. GM ceased production of minivans in 2008.
1986 Ford Aerostar

1986 Ford Aerostar

Ford's first minivan was the Aerostar, but the manufacturer steered away from Chrysler's front-wheel-drive design in favor of a truck-based chassis with rear-wheel drive. The Aerostar boasted high towing and payload capacities, but minivan buyers wanted what Ford's second minivan (the Windstar) offered; a low step-in height to lots of interior room with plenty of cupholders.
Toyota Previa

Toyota Previa

Designed for the Japanese domestic market, the spaceship-like Toyota Previa (produced from 1991-97) featured a mid-engine design. American drivers didn't like the odd proportions or the large engine compartment in the center of the cabin.
VW Caddy Racing Van

VW Caddy Racing Van

No, Volkswagen is not building Cadillacs, but they do build the Caddy, a compact delivery van that's widely used across Europe. This one-off racing edition uses a 2.0-liter diesel that is turbocharged to produce 260 horsepower and 377 pound-feet. of torque. Like the current VW Jetta, the Caddy uses clean-diesel technology that includes direct fuel injection.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 132 Comments
      Vicki
      • 2 Months Ago

      I like the Stout Scarab. Cool looking vehicle!

        rwilliamhoward
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Vicki

        I like it, too.  I wonder if any still exist?

          Eric
          • 2 Months Ago
          @rwilliamhoward

          Duh, there is a picture of one sitting in a museum.

          welcome butch
          • 2 Months Ago
          @rwilliamhoward

          THERE  WERE ONLY   7    OF  THEM   EVER   MADE

          fillipper
          • 2 Months Ago
          @rwilliamhoward

          Yes they do.  Just Google them for sale or images and look at all the pics at auto shows

          Robert
          • 9 Days Ago
          @rwilliamhoward

          The High Museum of Art in Atlanta had one on display last year. Compare it to the other vehicles of the 1930's to see just how far ahead of it's time the Scarab truly was! The author of this article obviously doesn't understand styling exercises...

      PheelACCD
      • 2 Months Ago

      This gallery doesn't deserve that title. At all.

      Buckingham's
      • 2 Months Ago

      The VW 21-window van has to be the most collectible of all time. Prices for those, even in moderately poor condition are astronomical!

        Ron
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Buckingham's

        Yes. A well-restored one is bringing 6-figure numbers at the auctions.

        cmcclarty
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Buckingham's

        Its a micro bus not a van.

      klw4919
      • 2 Months Ago

      Another POORLY conceived and executed article. These models were not failures. AutoBlog is so anxious to bash everything. I'm going to stop reading this crap.

        gagentleman1561
        • 2 Months Ago
        @klw4919

        i agree ,the ford aerostar was an awesome van and a huge seller

          Joe Peters
          • 1 Month Ago
          @gagentleman1561

          gagentleman1561- I have to agree with you, the Ford Aerostar was an excelent Mini Van. They were simple to work on, 1 flaw was the front seal in the trans. But simple fix. People complained about the Transmissions, but they drove them till they burnt out, never changing the $5.00 seal. I traded a 19 inch Color TV for mine, that's the 1st thing I fixed, it took me 20 minutes to put a new fuel pump in it, 30 minutes to change the Rack & Pinion steering. But I drove my little Van for 7 yrs. Then sold it to a young couple who drove it for another 2.


        chuckhalper
        • 2 Months Ago
        @klw4919

        AOL has experts at everything,didn't you know?  From politics to economics to combing your hair all wrong to cars and lots more. The best experts that $15 per hour can buy.

        Johns Associates
        • 2 Months Ago
        @klw4919

        I agree...hardly anything to the story.  Much a do about nothing.

          TwinklestarO
          • 1 Month Ago
          @Johns Associates

          The Areo Star was great the only problem was the oil pan rusted out. It could only be replaced if he transmission was dropped. Fixed mine with a rust retardant, then a thin layer of JB weld rubbed into all the little holes. It ran another twelve years. till the whole frame rusted out, it was ready to break in half.:) but still ran well.

        jaded13640
        • 9 Days Ago
        @klw4919

        It seems to be the way of online news anymore. Not just autoblog. Everything is about bashing something or someone or someone being outraged over some bs. TV news really sucks. It's always, "when we come back scientists reveal the planet will implode soon...only to find it's some bs study about some bs that doesn't mean anything or worse yet they'll tease a big story and hours go by and they're still saying, "coming up soon, that big article..." It's all bs, tv, online, and obviously this moronic article. Most of the vehicles shown weren't failures at all. In most cases they did pretty well for the companies. The cab over vans didn't do so hot but they didn't do so hot for any of the big three. And ALL of the big three made them. The Dodges seemed to sell ok and you still see some of the Chevys around. Yes, of course the VW "microbus" was grossly underpowered. Everyone already knew that. They still sold and azzload of them. They were cheap hippie vans. Why would you want a van full of stoners going fast anyway? DUH?! That Scarab was just cool. It was obviously more of a concept vehicle that was ahead of it's time. 

      Bill
      • 2 Months Ago

      Where's the Chevrolet Corvair Greenbrier?!?!?!

      jltjt9
      • 2 Months Ago
      JOHN LYNN TERRY
      Hey, this is a really neat looking vehicle.  You should show us more, like the interior and how in fact you open the doors.
      Who designed and built this model.  I would like to know and so would a lot of other people and one more thing, this did not evolve.  It was designed and built.  That my friend is called creativity and this unusual looking machine was a creation. I bet you anything that if it was in production today, it would sell.
      Come on, tell us more and let us see the whole thing along with engine size, type of transmission and the whole enchilada.   Please give us more pictures and especially the interior.  Please.
      fillipper
      • 2 Months Ago

      When the Stout Scarab was introduced, there was nothing on the road quite like it. Its 90 horsepower Ford flathead V8 was mounted in the rear providing lots of room to accommodate passengers inside. Outside, it looked more like it was built by an airplane designer than by an automaker. In-fact, it was. William B. Stout served as chief engineer of Packard's aircraft division during World War I. After the War, he designed a high-winged monoplane without the struts and wires that characterized earlier aircraft. Still later, his design for a three-engine commercial aircraft served as the inspiration for the successful Ford Tri-Motor.

      Inspired by aviation techniques, the Scarab - named after the hard-shelled Egyptian beetle - with its metal panels over a framework of tubing, took much of its strength from what was essentially an exoskeleton. Not only was the exterior and much of its design revolutionary, the interior packaging was most astonishing. Unlike its contemporaries, the fenders were incorporated into the body and the running boards dispensed with - thus reducing wind resistance and interior noise. Flush window glass and hinges were quite novel, too; as was flow-through ventilation with dust filter, thermostatically controlled heat, electric door locks, movable seating (including a table), and indirect interior lighting. The interior features understated wood trim along with a varnished wicker headliner and leather seats. Five of the nine produced are known to exist today. At $5,000 when new, the vehicles were sold by invitation. Owners including chewing gum king Phillip Wrigley, fellow investor William Dow, Robert Stranahan of Champion Spark Plug, and Harvey Firestone.

      klw4919
      • 2 Months Ago
      You can see from the responses here how hopelessly out of touch this article is. Who wrote it? 
        JohnTaurus
        • 2 Months Ago
        @klw4919

        Some 14 year old kid off the street with only 10 minutes to study Wikipedia before writing it.

          TwinklestarO
          • 1 Month Ago
          @JohnTaurus

          Obviously written by an intern studying journalism :)

      Abe Keil
      • 2 Months Ago

      once more the huff post is full of crap


      BG
      • 2 Months Ago

      If you want weird or worst, how about the BMW X6? Big body, high cost, high resource use, but minimal interior space. 

      JohnTaurus
      • 2 Months Ago *Edited*

      Geeze, this article is full of so many errors, its not funny. The Dustbuster vans were not GM's first minivan. Nor was the Previa Toyota's first minivan. Really, the Corvair van was GM's first small van, or the Astro/Safari was, depending on your point of view. The Previa was Toyota's first minivan with a name, instead of just Toyota Van (though it had a name in the JDM iirc).

      Aerostar was not unsuccessful. It was the best selling non-Chrysler minivan for most of its life. People loved it so much that a letter writing campaign in 1994 saved the van and Ford continued to build and sell them for three years after the Windstar was supposed to replace it.

      And, here we go with the "of all time" crap again, because there will never be another van or minivan, will there?Oh, wait, there will be? So how did you judge this vehicle that doesnt exist yet? Oh, you cant, so your list isnt really of ALL time, is it ( because ALL TIME includes the future)?!?!?

        conchhorn
        • 2 Months Ago
        @JohnTaurus

        Now we know where Huffpost and AOL writers go to retire. The auto blob.

      crazy ray
      • 2 Months Ago

      Another bogus, totally misleading article.   Yeah, the Scarab was a bit over the top, but all the others are run of the mill designs.    Don't you people ever get tired of working the con on readers?

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